Posted by Jack
If there was ever a reason for you to be cynical of anything coming out of government this is it.
Senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign — and hid evidence that it was unwinnable, according to a damning report by the Washington Post.
The paper, which obtained a cache of government documents under the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year legal battle, reported that the American officials made repeatedly lied about the longest armed conflict in US history.
The trove includes over 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war during the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations, including generals, diplomats, aid workers and Afghan officials, according to the Washington Post.
The paper referred to its reporting as The Afghanistan Papers — a reference to The Pentagon Papers, the top-secret Defense Department study of American military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967, which was published by the New York Times and the Washington Post in 1971.
In the case of Afghanistan, hundreds of insiders offered blunt criticism of how the US became mired in almost two decades of warfare, offering a mix of pent-up grievances, frustrations and confessions, as well as second-guessing and backbiting.
“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who was the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015.
“What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking,” Lute added, according to the report.
“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction … 2,400 lives lost,” he said as he blamed the deaths of American troops on bureaucratic breakdowns among Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department.
“Who will say this was in vain?” he added.
Since 2001, more than 775,000 American service members have deployed to Afghanistan. Of those, 2,300 were killed and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to the Defense Department.
US officials acknowledged in the interviews that their military strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted huge amounts of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.
They also shed light on the US government’s failed attempts to curtail runaway corruption, build a functional Afghan army and police force, and control Afghanistan’s lucrative opium trade.
Thought the costs incurred in the war in Afghanistan are staggering, the US government has not carried out a comprehensive accounting of how much it has spent, the report said.
The Defense Department, State Department and US Agency for International Development have spent or allocated between $934 billion and $978 billion, according to an inflation-adjusted estimate from Neta Crawford, co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University.
“What did we get for this $1 trillion effort? Was it worth $1 trillion?” Jeffrey Eggers, a retired Navy SEAL and White House staffer for Bush and Obama, told interviewers.
“After the killing of Osama bin Laden, I said that Osama was probably laughing in his watery grave considering how much we have spent on Afghanistan,” he added.